DC Pols Using Leadership PACs to Skirt Ethics Reform

How Washington politicians use so called ‘Leadership PACs’ to skirt previously adopted ethics reform rules was one key topic touched upon tonight in a 60 Minutes investigative report by veteran CBS reporter Steve Kroft and Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer.

According to Breitbart’s Peter Schwiezer, ” … when Congress passed the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, it plainly stated ‘a member shall convert no campaign funds to personal use.’ But soon afterwards congressional leaders quietly invented something called leadership PACs, political action committees that were not technically campaign funds and thus exempt from the personal use prohibition.”

In essence, the Leadership PACs allow politicians to create what Sixty Minutes’ Steve Kroft called, “a political slush fund.”

“That’s exactly what it is. It’s a political slush fund. Over time, we’ve had them. They’ve been outlawed. They spring back in new guises, and this (Leadership PACs) is the latest guise”, agreed former Federal Election Committee Chair, Trevor Potter.

This isn’t the first time the dubious practice has made news. Unfortunately, along with spending taxpayer dollars in increasingly unreasonable and irresponsible amounts, Washington politicians appear to be too intent on lining their own pockets, as well as those of family members in some cases, to put an end to the unethical practice.

Potter says they are essentially personal political expense accounts financed largely by lobbyists and special interest groups. Leadership PACs are now the second largest political revenue stream for members of Congress.

Peter Schwiezer: You can use them for babysitting, paying for babysitters. You can use them for paying for car service. You can use them for travel. Nobody’s really checking to see whether this is personal or legitimate business expense.

Back in 2006, North Carolina senator and presidential candidate John Edwards used his leadership PAC to pay his mistress Rielle Hunter $114,000 to make a campaign video.

And Republican Congressman Ander Crenshaw of Florida spent $32,000 hosting a tour of California wineries for a group of contributors from the defense industry, which he has some oversight of.

The list and type of abuses goes on and on. See more here and here.